Arts group donates musical instruments to local schools

  • Posted: Monday, April 8, 2013 9:57 p.m.
    UPDATED: Tuesday, April 9, 2013 8:22 a.m.
STAFF PHOTO BY ROB NOVIT
These sixth-grade band members and their classmates at LBC Middle School will benefit from the donation of 10 new instruments by the Aiken Performing Arts Group.
STAFF PHOTO BY ROB NOVIT These sixth-grade band members and their classmates at LBC Middle School will benefit from the donation of 10 new instruments by the Aiken Performing Arts Group.

It’s how phone calls occur some times – straight out the blue.

That was the reaction recently of Derek Parker, the LBC Middle School band director.

Bob Kelley, the volunteer outreach director of the Aiken Performing Arts Group, was informing Parker that the organization would donate 10 musical instruments to the band program.

“It was totally unexpected and will be a godsend when we start school next year,” Parker said.

Aiken Perfoming Arts Group, a nonprofit, arranges musical performances in the community as well as education outreach efforts. In recent years, the group has sponsored “Instruments in Your Attic,” receiving donated band instruments to repair and send on to schools’ band programs.

The numbers of donations have fallen from their peak, although a few still come in. In January, Walmart on Richland Avenue donated $4,830 for the project earlier this year.

Those funds have turned into new instruments for LBC and Byrd Elementary schools and will soon for Midland Valley High School. The arts group was also grateful to receive an $8,340 grant from Bi-Lo Charities. The Bi-Lo contribution will provide instruments for six more schools, he said.

Byrd received a percussion instrument package from the group for the music teacher, Connie Mitchum. The set includes alto and soprano glockenspiels and xylophones, tambourines and maracas. They will provide new learning experiences and will augment the choral program.

Principal Russell Gunter is especially delighted about the contribution to his school.

“It’s outstanding to see this as a former music teacher and band director (at LBC),” he said. “When you see the kids play, it’s great.”

LBC has received an elbow saxophone, three clarinets, two slide trombones, two trumpets and two flutes. At the beginning of a school year, Parker said, it can be a difficult time to put instruments in kids’ hands.

“Some parents can buy or rent one, but a lot can’t,” he said. “This will be an incredible help, and the sixth-graders will benefit the most. All are good instruments, and they’re brand new. We should have them 20 years from now. In addition, they bought us some sheet music. It’s the whole package.”

At Midland Valley High, Aiken Performing Arts Group will contribute to the band’s biggest need. As Parker experienced, Midland Valley band director David Hastings got a call from Kelley, who asked if the band could use $1,600.

“‘Oh yeah,’ I said, ‘we really could use a bari sax,’” Hastings said. “It was very generous and kind. Our bari sax is so old, and we’re very fortunate to replace it with this entry-level instrument.”

The Midland Valley High parent teacher organization also will contribute to the purchase.

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